Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse

Subject: Psychology
Type: Definition Essay
Pages: 7
Word count: 1827
Topics: Love, Book, Creativity, Emotions, Linguistics

The subject of love has been a part of human discourse from time immemorial and it has been used as a means of describing the manner through which individuals have emotions and personalities as well as reactions that correspond to the feelings associated with it. It has been studied and recorded in a diverse number of works to such an extent that they have essentially become innumerable. One of the most significant authors on the subject of love is Roland Barthes, who has written quite a lot concerning the effect of love on the intellect, especially the part of the mind that functions as the producer of language. Barthes promotes the idea that love essentially exists through the outpouring of language to such an extent that it is essentially a means through which individuals who are in love share what they feel for one another. Therefore, Barthes, in his A Lover’s Discourse, essentially discusses love as a discourse or language that rather than being analyzed, is an emotion that should be enacted.

A Lover’s Discourse is essentially an attempt to ensure that a discourse concerning love is created in such a way that it is not only dramatized, but also recreated. Therefore, love is essentially a means through which to ensure that there is the advancement of an understanding of love in such a way that promotes its simulation rather than its description. It is a means through which to ensure that there is the development of methods that advances the emotional nature of love rather than analyzing or describing it; which can end up leading to a loss of meaning. For example, in the text, Barthes states that “I-love-you is without nuance. It suppresses explanations, adjustments, degrees, scruples” (Barthes, 1978, p. 148). A consequence is that rather than seeking to associate love with certain characteristics or physical aspects, it becomes essential to make sure that there is the advancement of means through which to bring about the establishment of the emotional aspects of love. Barthes in this work essentially seeks to undertake it not through mediation, but actually seek to show the feelings of the lover himself. A consequence is that there is no intermediary in the process to show how the lover is feeling because the reader ends up delving into the lover’s mind to such an extent that the lover’s emotions are handled firsthand and there is the creation of means through which the readers are better able to understand the lover. In A Lover’s Discourse, Barthes is able to make the reader have a direct discourse with the lover so that the former delves into the emotional state of the latter without the mediation of the writer to describe the emotions that the lover has.

In this particular work, Barthes essentially makes use of language in a transactional manner in such a way that ensures the advancement of how love affects individuals. This is especially the case where the transactional aspect of language is made use of in such a way that ensures that it shows how individuals do things. He goes even deeper by seeking to ensure that he makes use of language to show the declarative and expressive aspects of the lover, as shown where he states, “Industrious, indefatigable, the language machine humming inside me…” (Barthes, 1978, p. 220). In this case, language is essentially used to express meaning in such a way that it does not refer to things, but it instead seeks to advance expressions by virtue of its own structure. A consequence is that a term such as love could stand for not only the feelings that individuals have towards one another, but also the emotional state as well as other feelings that individuals might have. In this circumstance, it becomes possible to ensure that there is the advancement of the interests of such a subject as love in a manner that allows for broader thinking that goes beyond merely describing it, but also seeks to bring about its expressive aspects. Love should therefore be seen as a discussion between individuals where they express and declare their feelings towards each other rather than a situation that focuses merely on the descriptive aspects that tend to essentially be superficial. This focus opens up love into a discourse that is inexhaustible because it is a means through which the expressiveness of the feelings involved can be achieved effectively.

The discourse of love covered in A Lover’s Discourse follows a formula developed by Barthes that seeks to define the way that individuals answer to it. In this discourse, there is an attempt to ensure that the feelings of the lover are portrayed in such a way that the emotional response is one that defines feelings rather than seeking to describe the tangible aspects of love. This is especially the case where he states, “Is not tautology that preposterous state in which are to be found, all values being confounded, the glorious end of the logical operation, the obscenity of stupidity….” (Barthes, 1978, p. 21). The language of love is, in this case, used in order to bring about those aspects that are extremely important to the manner in which individuals connect. The lover’s feelings towards one another are explored in detail to such an extent that the language used allows for the feelings to be described for their own sakes rather than being promoted in such a way that it leads to the advancement of the descriptive aspects that tend to lack the expressive factor. Achieving this goal can be considered Barthes’ most important accomplishment because it ensures that there is the creation of means through which language can be used for its own sake rather than being used in a bid to find meaning. This accomplishment helps in making sure that the reader is able to find out more about the expressions that are associated with love such as its amorous nature that can lead to a diversity of other feelings such as anxiety, the latter coming about when the love given is not requited (Boswell, 2016). Thus, Barthes ensures that rather than undertaking a straight line of thinking that is deductive, he makes use of language to show how love can be expressed in a manner that allows for it to be comment on, contradicted, developed, and exemplified so that the reader can be directly connected to the content.

In Barthes’ work, the connection between love and language is emphasized considerably because it is a means through which to enhance its expressiveness. Language is considered a means to bring about the establishment of the manner through which individuals are able to express themselves without necessarily seeking to include the conventional aspects that have become predominant when considering love. For example, Barthes states that “Orgasm is not spoken, but it speaks, and it says I-love-you” (Barthes, 1978, p. 149). A careful consideration of this use of language is extremely important because it allows for the establishment of avenues that can be used to reach the audience more effectively. It enables the reader to feel comfortable in showing the expressive nature of love without the constraints that are placed on it through conventions that have been established over time to regulate the manner through which individuals can express themselves. One of the most consequential conclusions that can be made about the use of language, especially when it comes to expressing love, is that it has been developed in such a way that it puts limits to the process so that the individuals involved end up using language in descriptive terms rather than in a manner that makes sure that the entire process is made use of without restrictions (Schmitz, 2017). It seems that the achievement of this goal is what Barthes intends in A Lover’s Discourse because it allows for the advancement of the subject of love through seeking removing all the burdens and descriptiveness that serve as restrictions to fully achieving the potential of the direct connection between language and love. Thus, it is essentially a degree of using language to write in such a way that makes love to be expressed in a mode that is uninflected by utility.

The highly original structure of making use of language that is developed by Barthes ensures that there is greater creativity in the process to such an extent that it becomes possible to express love as it is rather than as it should be. A Lover’s Discourse can be considered a means through which he seeks to ensure that he creates an idea of the complexity of love so that he not only includes the highly involved romantic moments, but also those of anxiety and a lover’s quarrel (Pieters, 2015). Through the use of this means, it becomes possible to ensure that the discourse of love is not editorialized, and it is instead a method that seeks to bring about a diversity of fragments that can be expressed by something other than language. It is essentially a narrative or personal experience that cannot be edited and has the means of enabling the reader or audience to feel a connection with the content because he is able to come to terms with them. The removal of all restrictions that might make language descriptive is important because it ensures that its formal purity is maintained so that when it comes to expressing love, there are no hindrances that can bring about a failure in its expressive nature. In the text, Barthes states that “The third person pronoun is a wicked pronoun: it is the pronoun of the non-person, it absents, it annuls” (Barthes, 1978, p. 185). Therefore, the narrative arc is an important method that Barthes adopts in the discourse because it allows him to make use of language in a way that is above the mundane manner that is it normally used. It instead becomes possible to ensure that such devices as coincidence are avoided at all times so that when creating a narrative, its order essentially belongs to the language itself.

In conclusion, Barthes seeks to promote language as not really having a connection with an object and it instead only has meaning in reference to itself. Thus, love is shown to be an expressive form of language that seeks to advance its more unguided aspects rather than adhering to the conventions of writing that stifles its expressiveness. A Lover’s Discourse essentially overcomes the deficiencies that have been placed on the expressiveness of language to such an extent that it creates a direct connection between the reader and the material that is under discussion. It allows the individual to view the expression of love through language as a means through which its true nature is advanced. This work is an important example of why there is a need to make sure that there is a reduction of restrictions in language that might make it difficult to discuss the subject of love.

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  1. Barthes, R. (1978). A Lover’s Discourse. New York: Hill and Wang.
  2. Boswell, M. (2016). The Rival Lover: David Foster Wallace and the Anxiety of Influence in Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot. MFS Modern Fiction Studies, 62(3), 499-518.
  3. Pieters, J. (2015). Fragments of a consolatory discourse: literature and the fiction of comfort. BARTHES STUDIES, 1(2), 123-147.
  4. Schmitz, T. A. (2017). The Rhetoric of Desire in Philostratus’s Letters. Arethusa, 50(2), 257-282.
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